The meaning of discipleship

“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 10:32–33, NASB

I really don’t keep up with Contemporary Christian music. Before last week I had never heard of Michael Gungor. However, he must have a large following and must sell a lot of “product” because after he revealed his “personal theology” in some interviews it suddenly became a big deal. Here is a link from my friend Amy Spreeman’s web page and radio show about this.

My input on this has been that this is nothing new. What I am reading from Michael Gungor is the same thing we have been hearing from the Emergent camp for years. Also, those defending him are using the same techniques and arguments trying to cast all who disagree with him as “hick Fundamentalists” or something along those lines. Again, this is nothing new. What we must never lose sight of here is the true nature of Christian Discipleship, that is, what it is and what is not.

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Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:1–7, NASB

Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. t is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly Than to divide the spoil with the proud. Proverbs 16:18–19, NASB

When I encounter a professing Christian who is joyless and focused entirely on trying to be fulfilled by worldly things, I want to take them aside and tell them that what they are seeking will not be found where they are looking. I want to show them that only genuine Christians who are humble as their Lord is humble find true blessedness. All truly regenerate believers have what they need to become humble and Spirit-filled, but most of us struggle for many years in the furnace of sanctification before God gives us that first taste of joy that is beyond measure.

Why do we struggle so? God knows what is best for us. Each of us is unique and God will use us according to His will in His timing. Some require much more refining than others based on what God has for them to do. However, everyone who is regenerate can experience the blessedness our Lord shared at the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount. Let’s take a close look at what some call The Beatitudes.

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Spiritual death comes through Adam, while spiritual life comes through Christ alone

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned – for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. Romans 5:12–14, NASB

I cannot count how man times Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians have objected to the teachings here on the doctrines of grace through arguments against original sin. That view is totally man-focused and utterly unbiblical. On the other hand, I have many friends who have escaped from the Word of Faith Movement. When we discuss these things on public forums those who see it as their role to defend WOF usually try to attack and ridicule my friends as they testify clearly that they left churches which were becoming mired in apostasy.

Are these things related? At first glance, Pelagianism, Word of Faith, and the growing apostasy in our churches do not seem to have much of a relationship. However, there must be one because these attacks and discussions are against a common theme. That theme is the differences between the natural man mindset and the transformed mindset.

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The nature of genuine repentance

And Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. On the first day of the first month he began his journey from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel. Ezra 7:8–10, NKJV

If we study God’s Word from cover to cover we will find that only God is perfect. He is Sovereign. He is Holy. He is complete and perfectly righteous. On the other hand, people are none of the above. We are a fallen race who, even after God’s gracious regeneration of our hearts, must continually work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

That implies that we still sin. We still fall into temptation and become entangled. Even when God graciously allows us to walk in victory for awhile, we get our eyes off of Him and on ourselves and begin to believe that we are invulnerable to the worst our flesh can throw at us. That, of course, sets us up for a next stumble.

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Who we are in Christ is by God’s grace alone

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 1 Corinthians 15:10, ESV

There are two extremes that Christians must avoid at all costs. The first is over confidence in one’s own ability, which is pride in its positive form. This causes believers to rely on their own abilities to do “good works.” The other extreme is to become paralyzed into inactivity because of pride working in its negative form.

It tries to resemble humility by proclaiming things such as, “I’m not sanctified enough to do that sort of work.” Both are attitudes of pride and are in rebellion against God.

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The day of atonement

Did Israel’s high priest have to wear a rope around his ankle when he ministered in the Holy Place on the Day of Atonement? Or, is this a Christian tradition with no Biblical merit? Jon Cardwell of preachingchristcrucified.com explains Christ’s eternal priestly office from Leviticus 16 in a 12-minute video. View article →

God’s knowledge of man is perfect and complete

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.

Psalm 139:1–4 NKJV

Our God is beyond our understanding. Thankfully, He has revealed Himself to us, to a degree, in His Word. Those who claim to serve Him, but treat His Word as if it was not important, or refuse to submit to the truths therein are fools. That has always puzzled me about those who take a sliver of God’s Word, misinterpret it, and then build massive doctrines around their misinformation. Have they no fear of God?

God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. He knows all, is everywhere at once, and is all-powerful. Those who play games with Christianity must have no understanding of this for if they did, they would not dare trifle with God Almighty!

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The low-information evangelical, part 2

In part 1, Marsha West brought the reader up to speed on Beth Moore’s slide into mysticism and also gave a heads up on her unbiblical teaching. In part 2 she reports on Moore’s recent appearance on Word of Faith teacher Joyce Meyer’s TV show and her eagerness to unite with someone who teaches a false gospel. Marsha also brings to light the unprecedented biblical illiteracy of a large number of professing Christians. She argues that evangelical has become such a broad term that it has lost its meaning. The proof of this is that false teachers such as Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer and Rob Bell are considered evangelicals. View article →

Confession and mortification

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13, ESV

God is Holy. God is Righteous. God is Just. God is Sovereign. Yehōwāh (יהוה) our Adhōnāy (אדן אדון), God our sovereign one, our Lord, our Kurios (κύριος), is also Love, Mercy, and Grace. We must not have a view of God that emphasizes His love, mercy, or grace over His Holiness.

We are commanded to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). We are commaded to delight in God and come boldly to His throne of Grace, yet we must never take His Holiness for granted. This is why we have so much exhortation in Bible to put to death the deeds of the flesh and then become Spirit-filled thereby walking in repentance.

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What is ‘strange fire’?

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Leviticus 10:1–2, ESV

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9–10, ESV

In his second epistle, Peter is describing Christians as a royal Priesthood. What does this mean? Since the elect is this Priesthood then each one of us who are in Christ are priests in Him, that is, Christ. It would be safe to say that we are witnessing in our day the culmination of a period in which this truth has become distorted within the visible Church.

The necessity of personal holiness for each believer has been neglected and discounted by antinomians whose cry is “Free Grace!” On the other hand, legalistic Christians have made the acts of obedience to God’s commands into idols unto themselves. My brethren, both of these extremes are Strange Fire unto the Lord.

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Live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1–2, ESV

Even though genuine Christians are new creations and have been purchased out of the world through the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross, as they attempt to live godly lives in the temporal, they will come under tremendous pressure to compromise by reverting back to the fleshly way of dealing with life. This way of reacting to circumstances, both good and bad, has emotions as its catalyst motivated by a form of self-righteousness that is manifested through self-exaltation and self-protection.

Here we witness ourselves reacting to the good and bad in a way that is little different than we did prior to our salvation. We may even attempt to justify our actions by proclaiming that we are only seeking justice. Pride is the culprit behind this and when we stumble into these sins it is because we are not spirit-filled and, therefore, not humble.

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Driscoll to step down temporarily from megachurch over allegations of spiritual abuse

According to Christian News Network:

Controversial Seattle megachurch founder Mark Driscoll will step down for at least six weeks while leaders review formal charges lodged by a group of pastors that he abused his power.

The 43-year-old pastor has been under fire in recent months for plagiarism, inappropriate use of church funds and improper behavior toward subordinates.

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Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?

While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:47–48, ESV

When the dogs and swine come to harass and distract it is not pleasant, but I can bear it. However, when someone approaches this ministry as if a friend only to be discovered later to be a deceiver it is somehow much more difficult to bear.

When one breaks the bread of the Word of God with us then turns on us it is a bitter thing. Why? Deceitfulness is as the word suggests, it is the process of deception, for whatever purpose, that causes trusts to be broken and fills us with anguish and grief. It is hurtful.

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Repentance is a marker of Christian authentication

Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:18–22, ESV

For the Christian, this life is a test as well as a proving ground in which God grows and matures those who belong to Him through pruning and removing what is not of Him in order that the believer will be humbled and, therefore, enter deeper into the process of becoming more Christlike. There is a cost of following Jesus, but if you listen to certain preachers and teachers in our time, this is not true at all. Instead, what they teach is that repentance is not a part of one’s salvation at all.

However, repentance is a marker of Christian authentication. On the other hand, in the visible Church in our time there are many voices that seek to normalize homosexuality for instance. However, to make this claim they must ignore what the Bible clearly teaches about what constitutes marriage (Genesis 2:24; 1 Corinthians 7:8–9). Those who truly follow Jesus must do so on His terms, not the terms of this lost and dying world.

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No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish

No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:5, ESV

I was in Elementary School in the late 1950s and early 1960s. That means I was in Junior High and High School in the the 1960s and College in the late 1960s and the early 1970s before I went into the U.S. Navy. I can remember very clearly segregated schools in Oklahoma and when segregation ended.

I can remember when there were race riots all over the country it seemed and then it seemed insanity went from bad to worse with the assassinations of the black rights leaders like Medger Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. I was in school in the 7th grade when we heard about the assassination of our President, John F. Kennedy.

It was a few years later when I was in High School that his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, who was probably going to be the Democratic nominee for the Presidential election in 1968, was assassinated. All of that took place with the grim reality of the war in Viet-Nam and the draft awaiting all of us when we turned 18.

It was because of this bleak, insane, dark, seemingly hopeless period that so many in my generation rebelled and dropped out. They sought peace through love. They sought to change everything top to bottom by going to the extreme left. They sought to nullify everything that generations before had done and start over. Sound familiar?

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Christian radio station pulls out of Michael Gungor concert

Stand Up For The Truth reports:

The Board of Directors governing Q90 FM radio issued the following response to Michael Gungor Appearing at Life Promotions’ Power of One event next month:

There has been a lot of discussion about beliefs espoused by Michael Gungor, a musician who will be playing at Power of One, an event hosted and owned by Life Promotions.This event attracts thousands of Christian youth every year with rock music and speakers. Our Board has carefully discussed and prayed about how we should respond to this event.

Michael Gungor has made some very controversial remarks over the last couple years. He has stated he does not and cannot believe in a literal Adam and Eve as the first people, and has said the Flood is not believable and has been disproven by science. He has admitted he is under the influence of Rob Bell—who has branded himself an apostate by his views on eternity and marriage—and Rachel Held Evans, who supports homosexuality for Christians along with several other dangerous teachings. In fact both of them helped Gungor create his latest album.

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Hope for Christians who have been spiritually abused

When you think of spiritual abuse, does your mind conjure up a rigid, stifling environment in which people are expected to dress in an extremely conservative way, and adhere to certain legalistic rules in order to be accepted? While it’s true that these are sometimes the marks of a spiritually abusive environment,

What about a church whose members are often in true fellowship with each other? Churches where members laugh together, eat meals together, study God’s Word together, bowl and bike and hike together, and swap recipes and share coffee while the kids play together?

As surprising as it may seem, spiritual abuse can happen in these environments just as much as in the obviously legalistic churches. And oftentimes, those experiencing the abuse are not even aware that it is taking place. View article →

 

When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, Ephesians 6:14, ESV

Temporal focus is deadly for Christians. We know that God’s will for us is our sanctification, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 but we tend to let our focus drop from God to self.

Our flesh is insidious in its desire to drive us to partake of the world and its ways for self-gratification. Our enemy knows this; therefore his temptations are often rooted there. No one is immune or exempt from this. In fact, God uses this battle to test His saints.

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Fight the good fight of the faith

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12, ESV

What is the good fight of faith and why is it necessary? The main problem is the condition of what is called The Church in our time. It is decidedly lacking in spiritual maturity and, of course, much of it is not genuine. Christian spiritual maturity is a compound of wisdom, goodwill, resilience, and creativity.

On the other hand, since this is lacking big time in the visible Church, what we have in that part that claims to be “evangelical,” is man-centered, manipulative, success-oriented, self-indulgent, and sentimental. It is 3,000 miles wide and half an inch deep. It is lead by many false, manipulative men who are pushing false gospels and false doctrines while pointing people to a Jesus that is not the Jesus Christ of the Bible.

Therefore, as we become more and more obedient to the Lordship of Christ, we will be called by our Lord to enter the fight as good soldiers to fight the good fight of faith. This is necessary for in this fight we become the mature disciples who bring glory to God and those who are our enemy’s seed will fill up the cup of wrath that God is preparing for them as they use deceit, lies, and all sorts of wicked things in attempts to draw those fighting the good fight into unfruitful activities where they can be silenced and shamed by injuring their consciences. In order to fight this good fight of faith we must do so according the will of God, not according to the plans and devices of men.

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Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted

You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra-which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:10–13, ESV

“Christians” in the United States and other “civilized” countries do not exist in a climate of a fear of persecution like those in China and India (for now). Some would say that is because of our culture or that there are huge numbers of Christians here. However, the truth of the matter is that Christians who live in total obedience to their Lord will be persecuted. So, what does that say about Christians who live at peace with the world around them?

The truth of the matter is this; the reason Christians are not persecuted is that very few of them are walking in the level of obedience to their Lord that would draw attention to them from those who hate the real Jesus and the Word of God. However, if they were living holy lives, sharing their faith, actively making disciples, and preaching the whole Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ the wrath of Satan and his seed would come upon them.

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